The great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) grows freely in England
on dry banks and waste places, but somewhat sparingly in Scotland.
It belongs to the scrofula-curing order of plants, having a thick
stalk, from eighteen inches to four feet high, with large woolly
mucilaginous leaves, and with a long flower-spike bearing plain
yellow flowers, which are nearly sessile on the stem. The name
Molayne is derived from the Latin,
In most parts of Ireland, besides growing wild, it is carefully
cultivated in gardens, because of a steady demand for the plant by
sufferers from pulmonary consumption. Constantly in Irish
newspapers there are advertisements offering it for sale, and it can
be had from all the leading local druggists. The leaves are best when
gathered in the late summer, just before the plant flowers. The old
Irish method of administering Mullein is to put an ounce of the
dried leaves, or a corresponding quantity of the fresh ones, in a pint
of milk, which is boiled for ten minutes, and then strained. This is
afterwards given warm to the patient twice a day, with or without
sugar. The taste of the decoction is bland, mucilaginous, and
cordial. Dr. Quinlan, of Dublin, treated many cases of tubercular
lung disease, even when some were far advanced in pulmonary
consumption, with the Mullein,  and with signal success as
regards palliating the cough, staying the expectoration, and
increasing the weight.
Mullein leaves have a weak, sleepy sort of smell, and rather a bitter
taste. In Queen Elizabeth's time they were carried about the person
to prevent the falling sickness; and distilled water from the flowers
was said to be curative of gout.
The leaves and flowers contain mucilage, with a yellowish volatile
oil, a fatty substance, and sugar, together with some colouring
matter. Fish will become stupefied by eating the seeds. Gerard says
Figs do not putrifie at all that are wrapped in the leaves of Mullein.
If worn under the feet day and night in the manner of a sock they
bring down in young maidens their desired sicknesse.
The plant bears also the name of Hedge Taper, and used to be called
Torch, because the stalks were dipped in suet, and burnt for giving
light at funerals and other gatherings. It is a plant, says the
Grete Herball, whereof is made a manner of lynke if it be tallowed.
According to Dodoeus the Mullein was called Candela. Folia
siquidem habet mollia hirsuta ad lucernarum funiculos apta. It
was named of the Latines, Candela Regia and Candelaria. The
modern Romans style it the Plant of the Lord, Other popular
English names of the plant are Adam's flannel, Blanket,
Shepherd's club, Aaron's rod, Cuddie's lungs; and in
Anglo-Saxon, Feldwode. Gower says of Medea:--
Tho' toke she feldwode, and verveine,
Of herbes ben nought better tweine.
The name Verbascum is an altered form of the Latin barbascum,
from barba, a beard, in allusion to the dense woolly
hairs on both sides of the leaves; and the  appellation,
Mullein, is got from the French molene, signifying the scab in
cattle, and for curing which disease the plant is famous. It has also
been termed Cow's Lung Wort, Hare's Beard, Jupiter's Staff, Ladies'
Foxglove, and Velvet Dock from its large soft leaves. The Mullein
bears the title Bullock's lung wort, because of its supposed
curative powers in lung diseases of this animal, on the doctrine of
signatures, because its leaf resembles a dewlap; and the term
Malandre was formerly applied to the lung maladies of cattle.
Also the Malanders meant leprosy, whence it came about that the
epithet Malandrin was attached to a brigand, who, like the leper,
was driven from society and forced to lead a lawless life.
An infusion of the flowers was used by the Roman ladies to tinge
their tresses of the golden colour once so much admired in Italy; and
now in Germany, a hair wash made from the Mullein is valued as
highly restorative. A decoction of the root is good for cramps and
against the megrims of bilious subjects, which especially beset them
in the dark winter months. The dried leaves of the Mullein plant, if
smoked in an ordinary tobacco pipe, will completely control the
hacking cough of consumption; and they can be employed with
equal benefit, when made into cigarettes, for asthma, and for
spasmodic coughs in general.
By our leading English druggists are now dispensed a succus
verbasci (Mullein juice), of which the dose is from half to one
teaspoonful; a tincture of Verbascum (Mullein), the dose of
which is from half-a-teaspoonful to two teaspoonfuls; and an
infusion of Mullein, in doses of from one to four tablespoonfuls.
Also a tincture (H.) is made from the fresh herb with spirit of wine,
which has been proved beneficial for migraine (sick head-ache) of
long  standing, with oppression of the ears. From eight to ten
drops of this tincture are to be given as a dose, with cold water, and
repeated pretty frequently whilst needed.
Mullein oil is a most valuable destroyer of disease germs. If fresh
flowers of the plant be steeped for twenty-one days in olive oil
whilst exposed to the sunlight, this makes an admirable bactericide;
also by simply instilling a few drops two or three times a day into
the ear, all pain therein, or discharges therefrom, and consequent
deafness, will be effectually cured, as well as any itching eczema of
the external ear and its canal. A conserve of the flowers is employed
on the Continent against ringworm. Some of the most brilliant
results have been obtained in suppurative inflammation of the inner
ear by a single application of Mullein oil. In acute or chronic cases
of this otorrhoea, two or three drops of the oil should be made fall
into the ear twice or thrice in the day. And the same oil is an
admirable remedy for children who wet the bed at night. Five
drops should be put into a small tumblerful of cold water; and a
teaspoonful of the mixture, first stirred, should be taken four times
in the day.
Flowers of Mullein in olive oil, when kept near the fire for several
days in a corked bottle, form a remedy popular in Germany for
frost-bites, bruises, and piles. Also a poultice made with the leaves
is a good application to these last named troublesome evils. For the
cure of piles, sit for five minutes on a chamber vessel containing
live coals, with crisp dry Mullein leaves over them, and some finely